Grandpa Elliott’s Gift to Me
While wandering around the French Quarter this afternoon I came upon (one of many) jazz bands playing on Royal Street and decided to give the body a rest and listen. I squatted down next to an elderly gentleman sitting on a bucket against a storefront wall. The band in the street finished the song and took a break. I was still enjoying not standing so I struck up a conversation with the man beside me. We talked a little about the music and about New Orleans. I was intrigued by the fact that there were no lenses in his wire eyeglass rims and when I extended my hand while introducing myself, I realized he didn’t see it.
He asked what I did for work and I told him, photography. He told me I could make a lot of money if I took his picture. (I get that from a lot of models – LOL) But I asked why anyway. I figured he wanted his picture taken so I snapped a few. He told me I should go down the block to the internet cafe and type in playingforchange.com
Then it hit me. I had seen the playing for change video. “I loved that video!” I told him. Then he looked familiar. We talked a little about music and life. I asked him where he lived. He asked how many kids did I have. You know small talk. He asked where I was from. He talked about having been in New York and wondered whether Vermont was part of New York, or separate? More small talk. I was really hoping to hear him sing but the other band was still “on stage” though still on break. We talked more. About travel. I told him how I loved to travel.
“I can take you to Broadway or Rap City or anywhere you’d like to go.” he told me. After a brief pause he asked “Would you like to go to Broadway?”
“Sure.” I answered, “I’d love to.”
“Okay, let’s go.” He held out his hand and I slipped mine into it.
Then he began to sing. He sang Ol’ Man River for me as beautifully as I could ever hope to hear it on Broadway. Shivers and goose-pimple good. When he finished I thanked him and told him that was the best gift I’d be getting today. I was speechless.
I adore this city. The people, the attitude, the food, the weather…the people.
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